Lughnasadh

For the Celts, who lived in central Europe, Lugh was worshipped as a deity of the Sun. This connection with the sun may explain his name (it means “shining one”), and it also may account for the attributes that he displayed: he was handsome, perpetually youthful, and had a tremendous energy and vitality. This energy manifests itself especially in the number of skills he had, according to legend, mastered.

Similar to the Roman god Mercury, Lugh was known as a god of both skill and the distribution of talent. There are countless inscriptions and statues dedicated to Lugh, and Julius Caesar himself commented on this god’s importance to the Celtic people. Although he was not a war god in the same sense as the Roman Mars, Lugh was considered a warrior because to the Celts, skill on the battlefield was a highly valued ability. In Ireland, which was never invaded by Roman troops, Lugh is called sam ildanach, meaning he was skilled in many arts simultaneously.

Many artisans, musicians, bards, and crafters invoke Lugh when they need assistance with creativity. Today Lugh is still honored at the time of harvest, not only as a god of grain but also as a god of late summer storms.

The Ancient Irish Book of Invasions tells us that Lugh came to be associated with grain in Celtic mythology after he held an harvest fair in honor of his foster mother, Tailtiu. This day became August 1, and that date ties in with the first grain harvest in agricultural societies in the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, in Irish Gaelic, the word for August is lunasa. Lugh is honored with corn, grains, bread, and other symbols of the harvest. This holiday was called Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NA-sah). Later, in Christian England the date was called Lammas, after the Saxon phrase hlaf maesse, or “loaf mass.”

Lugh corresponds to the Welsh god Lleu and the Gallic Lugos. From Lugh’s name derives the names of modern cities such as Lyon, Laon, Leyden and Luton.

Today, people remember the figure of Lugh with a festival which commemorates the beginning of the harvest in August.

Dorothy

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